9 Jul 2019 #spotlight

China's PV potential with pollution-free 1960s surface radiation

Historic (1960 – 2015) capacity factors (red) and SO2 (blue) and black carbon (black) emissions in China as a percentage of peak emissions in 1994 and 2005 respectively. Thin lines are annual, thick lines 5-year moving mean values. Adapted from Sweerts, Pfenninger, Yang, Folini, van der Zwaan and Wild (2019).

Historic (1960 – 2015) capacity factors (red) and SO2 (blue) and black carbon (black) emissions in China as a percentage of peak emissions in 1994 and 2005 respectively. Thin lines are annual, thick lines 5-year moving mean values. Adapted from Sweerts, Pfenninger, Yang, Folini, van der Zwaan and Wild (2019).

Using solar radiation data from 119 stations across China we show that photovoltaic electricity potential decreased on average by 11–15% between 1960 and 2015. Given the observed relation between surface radiation and emissions of sulphur dioxide and black carbon, reducing air pollution should let surface radiation increase. Reverting back to 1960s radiation levels could yield a 12–13% increase in China’s solar electricity generation. → Sweerts, Pfenninger, Yang, Folini, van der Zwaan and Wild (2019), Nature Energy.

29 Mar 2019 #spotlight

Photovoltaic electricity is a no-regrets investment in Europe irrespective of climate change

Results for present yearly total PV potential and future relative change and variance compared to the present under the RCP8.5 climate change scenario. Maps show the ensemble mean of the CMIP5 models of the total PV potential (a) for the present (2007–2027), (b) relative difference in yearly sum of produced power, and (c) intra-annual (seasonal) variance between the present (2007–2027) and future (2060–2080) time periods. Adapted from Müller, Folini, Wild and Pfenninger (2019).

Results for present yearly total PV potential and future relative change and variance compared to the present under the RCP8.5 climate change scenario. Maps show the ensemble mean of the CMIP5 models of the total PV potential (a) for the present (2007–2027), (b) relative difference in yearly sum of produced power, and (c) intra-annual (seasonal) variance between the present (2007–2027) and future (2060–2080) time periods. Adapted from Müller, Folini, Wild and Pfenninger (2019).

Photovoltaic power output changes locally by −6% to +3% on annual and −25% to +10% on monthly scales, when comparing present (2007-2027) to future (2060-2080) with a CMIP5 climate model ensemble for the RCP8.5 climate change scenario. Southern Europe sees increased output, while northern Europe sees a decrease; overall, photovoltaic electricity is a no-regrets investment in Europe irrespective of climate change. → Müller, Folini, Wild and Pfenninger (2019).